Locals in Nuwakot and Dhading stop garbage trucks over ‘broken promises’KMC says it has done its bit, accuses federal government of indifference. Supreme Court orders swift disposal.
Locals and elected representatives from Nuwakot’s Kakani Rural Municipality have once again started obstructing garbage trucks from reaching the Banchare Danda landfill accusing the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and the Ministry of Urban Development of breaking their development commitments.
After a similar obstruction by the locals last year, the City, the ministry and the locals had signed an agreement where the authorities had made several promises to address the locals’ concerns.
“None of the promises made in the agreement last year has been fulfilled,” said Mitthu Maya Tamang, vice chair of the Kakani Rural Municipality. “All they have done is blacktop a five-kilometre section of the road from Tinpiple to Banchare Danda.”
In June last year, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City and the residents of Sisdole and Banchare Danda had reached an 18-point agreement. Before the deal, there had been a three-way agreement with the involvement of the Ministry of Urban Development.
KMC Mayor Balendra Shah, Deputy Mayor Sunita Dangol, the City’s then administrative chief Lok Nath Paudyal and four local representatives, two each from Kakani Rural Municipality and Dhunibeshi Municipality, had signed the agreement last year.
Based on it, the City was supposed to start the process of providing health insurance to the residents of the affected area within a week of the deal. The beneficiaries of the insurance coverage would be residents of Dhunibeshi Municipality’s wards 1, 3, 4 and Kakani Rural Municipality’s wards 1, 2 and 3. Further, the City had announced plans to continue grants for other infrastructure development works in those wards. But those promises remained unfulfilled.
“With little done for a year since the deal, we have been compelled to resume the protest,” said Tamang.
The agreement had mandated the KMC to turn both Sisdole and Banchare Danda areas into smell-free zones within a month. And the KMC should have come up with a scientific solution within two months to prevent the landfill leachate from mixing into the local river. But as with nearly everything else, that clause of the agreement was also limited to paper.
“Not even one percent of the promises in the agreement have been honoured,” claimed Bal Krishna Acharya, the Dhunibeshi mayor.
Although the authorities have fixed the problem of leaking sewage from garbage trucks, they have yet to start working on preventing the landfill leachate from mixing into the Kolpu Khola river, according to Acharya.
“This has adversely affected surrounding areas, but the authorities in Kathmandu are indifferent,” said Chandra Bahadur Balami, former chairperson of ward 1 of Kakani Rural Municipality.
Moreover, with the new agreement, locals had asked the authorities to conduct a scientific research of the most affected areas in Sisdole and Banchare Danda and implement its suggestions; also, the City had to bring a programme to help locals with agriculture promotion.
“I don’t see any such plans, and I have never seen an expert visit our municipality for research,” said Mayor Acharya.
Ghananath Bajagain, chairman of ward 3 of Kakani Municipality, said they were forced to obstruct waste disposal after their repeated demands to relocate the affected locals went unheeded.
On Monday, a group of people including ward chair Bajagain stopped garbage trucks in the Aletaar area near the dumping site.
Bajagain said the locals are annoyed due to haphazard garbage disposal and the authorities’ failure to abide by last year’s agreement.
Asked why the KMC could not work as per last year’s agreement, spokesman Nabin Manandhar said the KMC has done as much as it could. “We have covered each and every person in the affected areas with health insurance, but the problem is, the central government has not done its bit, which includes relocating the affected,” said Manandhar.
He also claimed that the ponds constructed by the ministry to deposit the leachate are faulty and leak. “If only the ponds had been constructed properly, the leachate would not have leaked into the river,” Manandhar added.
He accused the ministry of showing indifference to the agreement it had signed with the affected local units.
“This issue should be addressed through dialogue,” Manandhar said. “We will hold a meeting with local representatives in the area and solve the problem at the earliest.”
A few days ago, the Kakani Rural Municipality decided to impose an entry fee of Rs100-Rs1000 on garbage trucks accusing the government of ignoring their pressing concerns including stinking trucks.
“The rural municipality had decided to collect a fee from garbage trucks,” Bajagain, the Kakani-3 chair, said. “We [elected representatives] also joined the protest after locals took to the streets demanding a halt to waste disposal.”
Locals living near the landfill have been disrupting garbage disposal time and again, putting forth various demands. And every year, the KMC and the federal government promise a solution by brokering a deal, but forget it soon.
The metropolis started dumping waste at the Banchare Danda landfill last year. Earlier, the garbage would be disposed of at the Sisdole landfill, even though it had exceeded its capacity several years ago.
In 2005, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City started dumping the Valley’s garbage at Sisdole, which is spread over 740 ropani (37.65 hectares), with an agreement that the site would be used only for three years. But authorities continued to dump the Valley’s waste for 16 years.
Kathmandu Valley generates around 1,200 tonnes of solid waste every day, and nearly 60 percent of this comes from Kathmandu metropolis.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, acting on a writ petition, issued an interim order on Monday, asking the local authorities to allow swift disposal of garbage and avoid charging any kinds of fees or taxes on garbage trucks.
A single bench of Justice Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada issued the order in response to a petition filed by the Waste Management Association against the local units’ move to obstruct waste disposal. Bimal Poudel, spokesman of the top court, told the Post that the court is yet to issue the text of the verdict, which is likely to come on Tuesday.